Monthly Archives: September 2019

Getting naked with Socrates…

I’ve been working on copy related to researching ancient history and wisdom lately. This spurs thoughts. Thoughts and I are like a runaway train — once I get going, I keep moving. Which is why I’m spewing out blogs at an unnatural rate for someone who really doesn’t have much time for blogging. It’s also due to a lot of events, trauma and emotional upheaval in the past couple of months, as well as meetings spurring thought. You can’t always spew your thoughts out at the poor people who instigated them. But I tend to chew over what people say. Particularly if it relates to a problem. And I have to unload somewhere. This is my unloading place. The place where I dump my thoughts. Sometimes unceremoniously, sometimes with a lot of bravado. I like entertainment, after all. Which is why I apply outrageous headlines and a lot of humor from time to time.

So this time it’s about Socrates. He asked questions. I’ve been thinking about that lately as someone told me they don’t like taking direction. Good philosophers, psychologists, coaches and leaders ask questions. They let people reach their own conclusions. Often they may guide them towards answers, rather than asking questions they have no clue where they will lead, but still: they ask questions.

Since I was a kid, I’d analyze people. Whether intuitively, intellectually, or both. Then I’d randomly blurt out my conclusions: often a pain point and its potential solution.

Then I studied acting and directing: I learned to break down scripts so as to figure out the thoughts behind the characters’ actions. From there I learned to break down the characters so as to be able to recreate their pasts that had led to these thoughts.

Through all of this I learned not just to understand others, but to understand myself. I understood the thoughts we think, where they come from and why we think them. Hence, I came to understand why I have the emotions I have. It’s due to my thoughts. However, it did not teach me how to change them. Not really.

While awareness tends to lead to a level of change, it doesn’t change everything. Being aware of a destructive pattern AND why you formed it, isn’t necessarily enough to change it.

You have to be willing to face yourself and the pain that comes with that to create change, but while that may help you let go of some things, it doesn’t change everything. Until you face something, you keep it bottled up. That means it’s still there. People are scared of facing pain, but by suppressing it they actually cause so much more pain, because they don’t let it go.

I always imagine this as a house: if something bad happens you let in a storm wind. You can try and contain that wind in one room by locking it in. Preferably far away from you, so maybe in the basement. But the wind is still rattling around in there. If you open the door to the basement and then to the garden, you’ll face the wind, you’ll feel its destructive force, but then it is released. It’s gone.

On the flip side of the coin, some people get stuck and revel in their own past/pain and, thus, also get stuck in it.

The thing is, releasing pain isn’t always enough. Because it’s usually attached to a coping mechanism that causes havoc. For example, when I get stressed I read, or binge watch netflix to escape from my own thoughts, but when I wake up the next day I have even more stress because instead of dealing with my to-do list, I was lost in a story.

If I’d taken ten minutes to meditate, or go for a walk, to deal with my stress and then tackled the to-do list, I’d been much further along and had LESS stress the next day.

In other words, you have to replace a dysfunctioning pattern with a functioning one. Let’s say someone overeats. They face the pain that is causing them to choose unhealthy and too much food to numb their pain. They’re willing to let go of their pain. But if they have no idea of what healthy foods are, or how to eat healthily (such as eating before your blood sugar tanks), they may very well not function properly anyway.

Plus, even if you let go of pain, stress, or whatever else is causing you inner turmoil, you’ll always face it again. And either you’ll relapse into the dysfunctional pattern to relieve your anguish, or you’ll use another one.

As Russell Brand said in his book Recovery: someone told him heroin saved his life. It was his coping mechanism. But it was a coping mechanism that was killing him, as well as destroying his social life, finances and work. Dealing with whatever made him use heroin in the first place AND finding better coping mechanisms led to him becoming clean. And as he also said: if a heroin addict can do it, so can you. That gave me hope. Because we all have unhealthy patterns, be it around finances, eating, drinking, work, exercise, relationships, or whatever else it may be.

My point though, is that my sterile approach in the past of serving people uncomfortable truths doesn’t work, beyond a possible wakeup call. You have to direct them towards something else. And love is the bridge to that.

Alan Kazdin, of the Yale Parenting Center, has, through studies around the world, come to the conclusion that punishment does little to facilitate change. Disregarding bad behavior, or giving someone a small consequence, while paying a lot of attention to and encouraging good behavior, leads to the biggest changes in a child. He even does things like workshopping tantrums. If a child throws severe tantrums, hitting adults, etc. he workshops the child through tantrums where it doesn’t hit, then praises that. He replaces one behavior with another and the bridge is love and encouragement from the parent. Once you’ve locked down having a “normal” tantrum, you can move onto having less of a tantrum, no tantrum and doing really well.

You replace one dysfunctional coping mechanism with a less dysfunctional coping mechanism until you can get to a great coping mechanism. One that actually helps you face the real problem. Such as how to handle distress.

Positive reenforcement has been used with great results on addicts, as well as in the workplace. It makes sense. When people resent you, they’re not very willing to do something that pleases you. The more you nag, punish and degrade, the less they will be willing to do what you want them to do. Also, the more you look down on them and punish them, the more you encourage their self-hatred and destructive patterns.

Actions have consequences. That needs to be shown. But giving attention to negative behavior and punishing it does not change the behavior.

Knowing this doesn’t always mean you can implement it. I failed in my own home. I raise a child on the autism spectrum who has PDA. He’s violent. He’s abusive. I was at the point where I was spending money I didn’t have to have nannies 24/7 as it wasn’t possible to be alone with him. And I was furious with myself because I reacted to his behavior, but imagine waking up to a child who is verbally and physically abusive 50% of the time and you never know when you’ll be hit next. And I didn’t have a controlled environment. He started attaching the neighbors children, his siblings, the dogs, the furniture and me.

When my child’s anxiety kicks in, and it’s been high lately, he tries to control his environment with violence. This is a destructive coping mechanism. PDA lends itself to this kind of aggressive behavior, but he was further raised in a house with his biological family where there was domestic violence and so his behavior is on another level.

I’ve now had to temporarily place him with his grandmother and a number of other people living in that household, and put professionals in place on top of the psychologists to try to help him to the point where it’s possible to have him at home again. This isn’t ideal, but neither I, nor his siblings, could live in fear anymore. Understanding and therefore loving someone doesn’t mean you can handle their abuse, or control your own emotions when subjected to it. And I’ve been all over looking for help from social services, schools, therapists…the list goes on. I wanted a controlled environment for him where Kazdin’s methods could be implemented but I can’t find one. And I’m out of money for having nannies 24/7 and even with that in place the situation was horrible. When I had a stomach bug and fever last weekend the toddler concerned asked me if his brother had “broken my head,” because of the violence. He had already moved to his grandmother at this point, but that alone was a horrifying thing to hear a toddler say.

I’ve had hell with the situation at home and I’ve felt ashamed about it too. I was caught in a catch 22 where we I couldn’t give up on the child, nor expose myself or his siblings to abuse. Plus not having the finances to, you know, ship Alan Kazdin over. In the end myself, his nannies and psychologist worked out a plan forward. I do think it’s important to talk about these things. Because what I experienced at home with a child, some experience with an adult.

This kind of coping mechanism (trying to control your environment using violence) is different from coping mechanisms to deal with inner pain from past trauma, current emotional stress, etc. in that it is a form of manipulation. This person isn’t just trying to handle their inner distress, but the distress they feel relating to people. Other coping mechanisms related to controlling relationships might be anger, extreme helplessness, crying hysterically, bullying, hiding away, pleasing, or threats to leave or stop loving someone. None is healthy. Expressing how you feel and learning to also see past your emotions, is a lot healthier. For example, my child fears not being loved to the point where he can’t handle any attention given to any other child. But he is loved. His emotions, based on his interpretations of past and present experiences, are telling him he isn’t though. And he acts on those emotions. They aren’t real, but he thinks they are. He’s created a world where he thinks he’s unloved and does anything to prove it to be true. 

Till this day I still have a hard time not telling people what their thoughts are, why they’re acting the way they’re doing, and to sort their shit out. Or what their patterns and coping mechanisms are and to sort their shit out. But it doesn’t work beyond the initial wakeup call. For some that might be enough, just as being thrown in a prison cell may be enough to wake someone up. But as Socrates discovered so long ago, you often get further by asking questions than spelling things out. And as Kazdin discovered, behavior isn’t changed by telling someone what’s wrong, but by showing them what’s right. By encouraging them and making them feel good doing the right thing. This, in turn, will help them love themselves, which I think, really, is the cornerstone of great behavioral patterns. Because once you love yourself, you act in ways that serve you and others. 

Speaking of which: most forms of depression spring from an obsession with self; an obsession with some dysfunctional, or painful part of self. Once we stop thinking about ourselves and only focus on serving others, we forget to be depressed, because we aren’t obsessing about what we should achieve, or what others think about us. We’re too busy helping someone else. That’s another way, I suppose, of changing behavior. 

For that matter, this blog is a coping mechanism for me to deal with my thoughts and emotions and I think it’s distracted me enough from work this week. It’s starting to move towards being dysfunctional. 

On that note my darlings, it’s time to stop writing. 

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Filed under addiction, addictions, autism, autism spectrum, Behavior, drug addiction, Parenting, pathological demand avoidance disorder, pda, positive reenforcement, Psychology, Self-confidence, Self-esteem, Self-help, self-worth, Uncategorized

Thoughts over drinks: the laws of nature (or why sex cannot exist)…

Physics and, I guess in a way, chemistry and biology, with a basis in maths, make up for the laws of nature. Yet, philosophers have often laid the foundations for what later became so-called natural laws. The laws themselves, of course, existed long before they were discovered. Unless quantum physics is right and things appear as you imagine them to appear…but that’s not always so, as failed chemistry experiments can tell us.

Now, at the age of twelve or so, I picked up Sophie’s World (but didn’t finish it) and was disappointed. Not because of the plot (well, that too), but because some dude in ancient Greece had the same thoughts I had. Only he got there some centuries before me. And there I was thinking I was really clever.

Some fifteen years later I picked up Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements at an airport in Los Angeles and marveled at the fact that a thought I’d had so clearly, was in the foreword of the book. It made me wonder: is all knowledge readily available to us at all times? Is the truth, indeed, written in a grain of sand? Will contemplation bring you to the truth?

Today I read: “The Taoist sage has no ambitions, therefore he can never fail. He who never fails always succeeds. And he who always succeeds is all- powerful.” I had a similar thought. Sitting in a hot tub in Los Angeles, ca. ten years ago.

When I had that thought I was depressed. I came to LA to study producing because I couldn’t figure out how to launch my career as a director, or entrepreneur. I’d read all the self-help books I could find, I’d attended the courses, I’d…seemingly done it all. But I couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t figure success out. And I’d built my entire ego around my skills and talents. My desire to make it.

I believed, and still do, that people are self-made. But I wasn’t making it. Neither in my career, nor in my love life. I was a failure.

I didn’t understand how I could be happy if a) I couldn’t do what I loved (running projects and directing movies) b) reach my goals. Especially as I believed love was something you acquired based on your deeds and personality. I worked tirelessly to become lovable. This was more true than ever as my gran had gotten senile and the one source of unconditional love, the one person I felt didn’t need me to be something for me to be worth something, was gone.

Besides, how could I have children if I couldn’t tell them how to succeed? You have to raise kids to be able to deal with life. I sure as hell didn’t know how to deal with life.

That day, sitting on a beach in Malibu with friends, I felt nothing. I felt completely dead inside. That feeling that frightened me. Sometimes it lasted a day. Sometimes a few minutes. But it was harrowing. No will to live. No will to die. In fact, I feared death. And I had an overwhelming sensation of not knowing what was real and what was not, what life and death constituted and where the hell in the universe were we after all?

So in the evening, I sat in a hot tub, looking at the moon, crying and asking God, the Universe and whatever forces may be, what I should do? The answer came to me: nothing. I had to do nothing. Just sit and experience. It was my life. I couldn’t know it all. I could just experience it all.

My life shifted that day. The emptiness inside, the feeling that I had to achieve something to reach fulness, disappeared gradually. I learned self-love. Because love no longer equalled perfection.

I’ve told this story before. But it came back to me as I read that sentence about having no ambitions. I don’t think you shouldn’t have ambitions, or goals. I just believe you can’t be attached to them. You can’t put your self worth in them. Nor should you hold onto things that no longer serve you. Just because you wanted to become a soccer player at the age of five doesn’t mean you have to hold onto that dream at the age of sixteen, even though you’ve spent eleven years chasing a ball on a field. We change. Life changes.

I also believe that the truth is out there (together with Mulder and Scully) and that’s why different thinkers, or wisdom seekers, have come to the same conclusions. I’ve often thought about this: how the truth exists if we only open our eyes. That and my da Vinci theory: that all answers are found in nature. That we cannot invent what doesn’t already exist.

Just because we’ve experienced an aha moment doesn’t mean we don’t evolve from there. As we grow, things change. The Earth that was once flat becomes round. Some people don’t wish to grow. They’re too busy proving the Earth to be flat, so that they don’t need to feel their perceived shame at having believed something that wasn’t true, or done something they’ll now have to condone. Without ego, there is not that pain. Yet, I think we all feel it to some extent, because we all have an ego. A sense of misguided identity. I still want to prove I’m as smart as all those philosophers, who, for that matter, often had some major misgivings as well. Pythagoras may have had some great ideas, but he was scared of black fava beans?! I mean you gotta laugh at yourself, right. Your superstitions. As many brilliant spiritual insights as I may have had, I’ve made so many mistakes in life I’ve suffered a great deal.

Yes, we’re probably self-made — either because of co-incidence as life shaped you into a person who makes it, or by design as you designed yourself to become that person. But in designing yourself, you first have to undesign yourself. It’s the unmaking of who you are that allows you to become who you wish to be. And to come undone, you first need to learn it’s possible. To be without being.

And before I start talking about how nothing can come from nothing and how nothing can have existed forever (which is my greatest philosophical debate, which is both encouraging and discouraging) I shall bid you a temporary farewell. See you in this dimension or the next. Or you know, on some non-existent planet somewhere as we cannot exist. Nor can chocolate. Or sex. So you better indulge in it before it realizes it to be so.

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Filed under achievement, Goals, Mindfulness, philosophy, Spirituality, The Mind

The art of shutting the f*** up!!!

Do you ever hear a voice inside your head giving a running commentary on your life, analyzing things one way, or another? I do. All the time.

I love to analyze things. As the 16 Personalities test stated: “You’re the kind of person who’d love nothing more than spending an evening with a bottle of wine and some friends, debating how to solve the European immigration crisis.”

Funnily, I’d done a lot of thinking around how to solve the European immigration crisis. Not because I’m involved in politics — I always find it more useful to do what you can than spend time debating what the politicians are doing — but because it’s been bogging me. And I’ve been irritated with, well, the politicians’ inaptitude and the public’s attitude. The problem isn’t immigration. The problem is how immigration is handled.

Anyway, before I hand you my opinions and you waste your time thinking about a problem that most likely isn’t yours to solve, my point is that I like solving problems. In fact, I like it so much that I do it constantly.

Usually I’m busy working out a) how things are working b) how things may work in the future c) what to do to improve how things are working/will work in the future d) how to problem shoot any existing problems and potential future problems.

I love this side of myself. It enables me to come up with fantastic concepts. It enables me to come up with plots for movies. It enables me to break down a text and restructure it. It enables me to come up with fifteen different revenue streams for any business. And it obviously means I can solve a lot of problems — any kind of problem presented to me is like giving me a bone that I will chew endlessly, coming up with a wide array of scenarios and solutions.

I enjoy all of this. A lot. But it also means that starting a business with just one income stream is confusing, because I’ve already thought of fifteen and don’t know where to start. Doing anything straightforward is confusing, because in my mind, I’ve already thought of a much bigger and better structure. If I’ve figured out how to build a castle, but I have to start with just the one tower, I become dismayed as it won’t work optimally. All the functions won’t be there.

This is only a problem when my mind doesn’t have perimeters. If I’m told up front to create a tower, then that’s where my focus is. That’s why I liked school: there were set tasks to complete. If I don’t have any perimeters, my mind will build a castle, an adjoining farm and before you know it: a village too!

It’s also a problem because I spend a lot of time in the future, instead of enjoying the moment. Sometimes I come up with so many different scenarios for how something can go, I don’t even test the waters, because one of the scenarios disagreed with me. Or, if I’m in a situation, I’m either coming up with ways to improve things, or planning ahead for what’s next. Just being, without having to know what’s next, or how to make things better, is a rather difficult thing for me. I’m always chasing a better tomorrow. Or coming up with some strategy or another to maintain what I’ve already obtained.

It can also become incredibly self-destructive when you’re constantly seeking betterment if you don’t feel you’re good enough as is. Seeking betterment is great, constnatly upping the bar so you never feel satisfied with yourself, or circumstance, is not.

As with everything in life, there are two sides to it — the yin and the yang; darkness and light; good and evil.

I am writing about this as I’ve been frustrated with my mind for getting tangled up in future scenarios (and freaking out about some of them as I can’t possibly predict whether things will go one way or another and thus wanting to walk away from things, or control them by enforcing structures), trying to fix problems that aren’t mine to fix and being unable to just enjoy the moment. My head is constantly figuring things out, even when things aren’t supposed to be figured out. When you’re just supposed to sit back and enjoy the moment. My mind is so far ahead I can’t get a grip of what I’m currently doing. I also get frustrated with other people if they can’t keep up with the speed of my mind. At other times, I feel embarrassed because I’m too intense (though my best friend claims my creative energy is addictive as you get infused with it…until I overwhelm myself and get lost amongst my projects and crash, that is).

The lesson? As my principal, Sam Kogan, said about the mind: “It takes control over you, until you take control over it.” And in this instance, one of my greatest strengths becomes my biggest weakness if I don’t take control over it.

A two-sided coin. Aren’t we all? But we can all better ourselves…sometimes by not trying to better ourselves…

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Filed under Awareness, diary, Mindfulness, personal growth, Self-help, Spirituality, The Mind, Thoughts

The muse within…

A bottle of wine. Ink stained paper. An old type writer. Dusty wine bottles filled with candles. An easel. Tubs of oil paint. A multitude of brushes. Possibly some clay, waiting to be formed under your fingers. A divan. Wooden floors. Windows. A view of Paris.

Welcome to my personal idea of some sort of paradise. An artist’s studio in a loft apartment à Paris. You can find me there sometimes, when my mind wanders.

Muses often get confused with half-naked women and men, lying on divans in Paris, as they’re painted by some artist. But we all have muses. Some are constant. Some are fleeting.

When you were a child, that muse might have been Batman. As an adult, it could be the friend who makes you smile, or the author who inspires you to do something great, or simply makes you get out of bed on a bad day.

If I spend any time sitting on my porch, looking at the stars and listening to the frogs singing, I start writing poetry quite by accident. Nature is my muse. So is Paris. Without me trying, nature and France make me create poetry. Cooking and wine sometimes also unleash the poetic power within (excuse the Tony Robbins pun, I couldn’t resist). Harbors, are another poetic place for me. Whatever fuels my soul, is a poetic place for me.

There is this quote about whether you’ve done something that fuels your soul lately? Sometimes, I think it’s about the places too. The places where your mind goes to when it wanders up and down the hills of Hollywood, the scent of wood burning fires in the air and the fog slowly creeping in. But L.A. is my home, not necessarily my muse the way Paris is. It’s just a sense that I belong there. But boy, does my mind wander there.

We all have muses. The question is if we have time to seek them out? And if we can interact with them without getting lost? You see, some get caught up in a muse. Their desire, their feeling of feeling good, when around their muse is so intense they think of nothing else. And so, the muse destroys them. The passion turns into destruction. What was once good, turns bad. I think this is why religion is so against passion. Not because it’s bad, but because if you don’t learn to control your desires, you drown in them.

If you don’t know how to express your emotions, or don’t face your pain, they consume you. You drown inside your mind, or in your attemtps to try to avoid it. If you don’t explore your passions, you wither and die. If you get lost in them them, they too, consume you.

Some keep everything within, until a match is struck. Sometimes that match causes a destructive explosion, or wildfire that causes havoc. Sometimes a light is lit and a new life discovered.

Inspiration is key to our happiness. It is when we are inspired we feel as if though our senses are turned up high and everything we see is turned into poetry; into art. It’s the feeling of being in love with life. Or as Steinbeck said:

Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight of the nerves, of the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep-drawn breath is sweet. Its beginning has the pleasure of a great stretching yawn; it flashes in the brain and the whole world glows outside your eyes. A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then -the glory- so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose, and dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man’s importance in the world can be measured by the quality and number of his glories. It is a lonely thing but it relates us to the world. It is the mother of all creativeness, and it sets each man separate from all other men. 

It’s just important to remember that your inspiration isn’t just one muse — one person, one place, one event, one hobby… Life is filled with muses. I was inspired long before I came to Paris. Long before I met that one person. Long before I knew how to dance. Long before I read Isabel Allende. But maybe the more things and people we find to inspire us, the more fuller a person we become.

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Who are you…?

Who are you?

Are you someone who…gets angry for things? Receives joy from things? Gives love? Receives love? Has inner disputes about what to do? Don’t know what to think about some things? Are very opinionated about some things?

Are you someone who has failed? Succeeded?

Maybe the better question is: who do you want to be? 

You were born free, but life shaped you. You have one voice in your head telling you to live like your mother wanted you to live, one voice telling you to live like your father wanted you to live, one voice telling you to live like your religion wanted you to live, one voice telling you to live like society wanted you to live…there’s one voice for every influence in your life growing up.

You also have the voice of the judge in your head. The one telling you because you once…or several times…did something bad, you deserve to be punished. Deserve to fail. Deserve to be fat. Deserve to suffer. The list goes on.

Then there’s the voice of fuck you. You wanted me to be nice, fuck you. You wanted me to follow a certain religion, fuck you. You didn’t want me to become an artist, fuck you. You wanted me to be good, fuck you. You didn’t think I could make it, fuck you. Sometimes this voice spurs you onto achieving great things (for the wrong reasons), sometimes it spurs you onto destroying your life.

Then there’s the voice of knowledge. Because A, B, C happened in the past when I did something, then something similar will happen now. We collect information that we use to assess situations. Sometimes this is good — you don’t want to get burned on that fire twice — but many times it’s not. Because the past is not the now. The circumstances are different. The people are different. Everything is different.

Because of that voice of knowledge, we forget to actually see the moment. In fact, because of all of those different voices in your head, you make snap decisions and judgements (half which you aren’t even of aware of), that have nothing to do with reality. With the moment.

So what’s the truth? How do you see the truth? How do you live in the present?

Let me ask you this:

You weren’t born that way, were you? With voices in your head telling you who you are and how you should live?

And are you your past? Or is the past just a memory in your mind?

The truth is, you’re just a human. But as a human you have the ability to shape yourself. Even re-shape yourself.

You are an artist creating your own image.

So the question is, who do you want to be?

Do you want to be your past? The voice of those who shaped you? The voice of fuck you? The voice of the judge? The voice of knowledge? Or do you just want to be? Explore?

We all have some sort of essence, of course. And we can learn from our past. We can choose which influences we value. But maybe it’s also time to sit back, breathe and see this moment the way an explorer would when entering the unknown.

Maybe I’m writing this, because in the past week I’ve tried to figure out if I’m good, or bad. I did something I thought I’d never do: I had to make a choice to put some people’s needs above others. I also had to put my own needs above others. And that’s not the kind of person I see myself as. But I had to make that choice, or I’d sink the ship. It’s just, I never thought I’d have to make that choice. And I didn’t like myself doing it, even if it was the right decision to make. And for the past couple of days, I’ve had a judge inside my head weighing the pros and cons. Justifying my choice, punishing myself for my choice…rarely have I stopped and just allowed myself to be.

I’ve been so emotionally stressed out and over worked for the past couple of months I’ve not enjoyed my own company. I haven’t always acted like I wanted to act. When I said that I haven’t always reacted favorably last week, one of my nannies turned around to me and said “But for God’s sake Maria, how much can one person take?”

Every single day almost has felt like a test in choosing to act, instead of react. Like a spiritual challenge. But many days I’ve failed. I have reacted. Fear and anger, helplessness, victim mentality, fury…I think I’ve gone through the whole repetoir a million times. Through a lot of this time I’ve survived thanks to others telling me I’m inspirational. That it’s OK to get stressed. That it’s OK to be human. And I’ve gotten off the floor and tried again the next day. I’m grateful for that. I’m extremely grateful for that.

In short, I’ve felt like I’ve lost myself and found myself over and over again, while also feeling like I still haven’t had enough time to sit down and breathe long enough to actually be with myself.

Part of me writing this was also because I listened to Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Three Questions: How to Discover and Master the Power Within You and re-read the poem The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Who are we? Who do we want to be? And can we be, without needing to have all the answers? Because we don’t.


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Moments like these…

This morning a woman was getting off the bus, asking the driver for instructions. There was some confusion, so several people listened in. Then the woman got off the bus as it turned out to be the right stop after all.

As the bus started driving someone saw the woman walking in the wrong direction. An older man stood up and said “We can’t let her go in the wrong direction.” A whole row of people started knocking on the windows, the driver honked the horn and eventually stopped the bus to make her take note.

It was just one of those moments that were filled with beauty. Like a warm hug filled with human care and compassion. And it filled me with joy. If people can care about something so small, they can care about much bigger things.

I live in South Africa. There’s enough racial tension here to set off metaphorical bombs. Cape Town is known as the most dangerous city in the world. My nanny has been held at gunpoint going to work. I know few people in the townships who haven’t been sexually abused. There’s so much addiction it sometimes feels like you’re walking through a field of meth destrcution. Yet Cape Town is filled with beauty too. Cape Town is filled with beating hearts. Cape Town has kindness in its soul. And that, that’s just beautiful.

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Filed under Cape Town, conscious lifestyle, Conscious Living, generosity, Heart, human spirit, Inspiration, Inspirational, Joy, kindness, Love, Motivation, South Africa

Reclaim your (sensual) power…

We’re all sensual creatures. Most of the time we forget. Because, well, sitting in the office, on the phone with GoDaddy asking them to please, for the love of some God up yonder, can they sort out your blooming hosting properly? But the truth is, we can sit saying that, with our suspenders on, our backs straight and a sensual smile on our lips. Even if we happen to be wearing a sack of potatoes (as the Swedish saying goes), we can ooze sensuality. It’s a state of mind.

Many times (too many times) we give up our power to circumstance. I happened to look up just now (which is now a week ago or so) and CNN is on (muted) and saw a headline about what Trump had said about Obama and Putin. There were then two guys expressing their opinions about the statement.

Trump says something and half the world erupts into a debate about it. People spend insane amounts of time debating the words and actions of politicians (not to mention: tweeting about it). But who lives next to them, or what they’re doing to save their own neighborhood remains, well, debatable.

We all have power to change the world. Not least, our own homes, neighborhoods and cities. But it’s easier to swear over Trump (or Obama if you prefer), than donating 8 hours a month to a charity that does good where you live, or deciding that it’s time to sort out your close relationships.

World news are great in that we can find out what’s going on. They can help prevent genocide and a number of other atrocities. And we do tend to find out what illegal thing Trump did next.

However, if there was a fire in China and you live in the US, you can either spend five minutes watching the news about the fire, or five minutes cheering up the elderly neighbor next door. Or, you know, plant some trees to make up for what the fire destroyed.

You can use a search engine that plants trees (Ecosia) and hand out free LED lights to those who can’t afford to buy them, instead of bitching about climate change.

People love doomsday theories and talking about how the world is going to go down because of politicians, but rarely do they start an awareness campaign in their own neighborhood about how to change things around. Right there. Right where they are. Right where they can actually do something.

The thing is, politicians and corporates have little power if everyone boycotts them. Yes, you may want to stay aware of what’s going on (and I’m at fault there — I have little time for anything but my own work and family), but spending hours every week watching the news isn’t going to help. Watch the fifteen minute sum-up (or enjoy the late night piss-take) and spend the other hours actually doing something other than expressing your anger on Twitter.

Just my two cents, but then I live in South Africa where, if people didn’t do something, we’d all be in the shit as the government here isn’t exactly efficient and poverty and violence abounds. Here, charity is a way of life.

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